fig parrots/John Young

To: <>
Subject: fig parrots/John Young
From: "Jeff Davies" <>
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2007 01:03:38 +1100
Well spoken Andrew, but judging by a "Latest News" item posted on John
Young's website dated 19/01/07, he has no intention of either putting up or
shutting up. If the photographs are his only evidence then the only possible
way John Young can defend his claim is to present the photos for
proffessional scrutiny by Gale Spring a technical expert in this field who
has made his time available for this task. The offer was made, John declined
the offer. On his website he promisses to present the "body of evidence,
including photographs of multiple birds, recordings and biological material
together with a nest site" at some future date, but he says this "may take
some considerable time". Why? He says he already has the photos and other
material, we all want to see it. This isn't just a couple of "armchair
experts" speaking here it's a sizable chunk of Australia's birding

Cheers Jeff Davies

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Andrew Stafford
Sent: Tuesday, February 20, 2007 10:00 PM
Subject: fig parrots/John Young

John Young is an exceptionally talented naturalist, as anyone who has been
out in the field with him will attest. And he has indeed been involved in
some excellent work, for which he has earned admiration.

That in my view only makes the fig-parrot saga more puzzling - why would he
risk his reputation in this way? - and certainly no less disappointing.
Greg's scepticism seems to me at this stage to have been vindicated, and
until such time as John Young documents his claims further we should be
thanking him for preventing the further wastage of taxpayer's money.

The implications of this case are extremely serious. Young wasn't prepared
to divulge the location and presented the photographs as evidence; citing
fear of collectors exterminating the birds. Yet if he has indeed tampered
with the photographs, then specimens may be the only way claims such as
these may be trusted in the forseeable future.

I dearly wanted to believe this story but I was always wary of the idea of
two extremely rare and extremely similar species living sympatrically with
each other and concerned that the claims were being splashed about in the
media with scant consideration for the academic channels of proper
documentation followed by peer review.

John Young has said he has nothing to prove to anyone and will stand on his
record. That doesn't wash now - it's put up or shut up time. The rest of us
should not be afraid to call a serious case of attempted scientific fraud
for what it is, and I applaud Greg Roberts for reminding us all of the value
of sceptical inquiry. That is a journalist's responsibility. He has done his
job well.

Cheers - Andrew

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